Local Students Receive Mental Health Assistance Courtesy of United Way
Part of $6 million raised last year went towards mental health initiatives
FARGO, N.D. — Last year, United Way of Cass–Clay raised a record $6 million.
As part of its mission, the organization used a portion of those funds to help education in Cass and Clay Counties.
“If we prepare children to succeed, we can really accomplish all of our bold community goals. The foundation is making sure that young people have what they need to be successful to grow up to be people who are independent and successful, and that’s what we want as an organization,” said Kristina Hein, the Marketing Manger for United Way of Cass-Clay.
For one district 30 miles away from Fargo, the power of United Way’s support goes far beyond the classroom.
“It was with their funding last year that we were able to put a licensed therapist on our site one day a week, and that’s a game changer for services in the rural area,” said Cory Steiner, the Superintendent of Northern Cass Public Schools.
According to the North Dakota Youth Risk Survey, one in four students are struggling with a mental health issue.
“A learner doesn’t want to learn about math if they have all this stuff in their backpack, like anxiety, depression, and divorce. So this is a way for them to finally clear themselves of some of those barriers so learning can take focus and then they can become the best version of themselves,” said Steiner.
One way that Steiner learned about the true impact mental health services could have on their district was through the “I wish my teacher knew” campaign, where students wrote letters describing issues they wished they can tell their teachers.
“We really didn’t know how bad and it really made us look at them with a more compassionate and caring eye,” said Steiner.
This year, the United Way looks to raise $6.25 million. If they reach their goal, Steiner hopes that some of that funding goes towards hiring a licensed therapist at the schools full–time.
He says having a full–time therapist could go a long way in helping his students in the future.
“If we don’t start doing something about this now, we’re going to lose a generation of learners in our society,” said Steiner.
Thanks to donations from United Way, 123 students at Northern Cass and West Fargo received access to mental health support at school.